An example is made, aka “Baby can’t go shopping? Now what!”

gucci

The expected happened today as FIFA, the organizing body that handed down the two-window transfer ban to FC Barcelona for violating youth player strictures, denied the club’s appeal. So the transfer ban remains intact, affecting player movement in the winter and summer 2015 transfer windows.

The club’s next step will be to (again) head for CAS and an appeal.

Typically, the club issued a huffy statement full of dudgeon and indignation:

“FC Barcelona cannot accept an affront to the spirit of our Masia, a world renowned example of academic, human and sporting education.”

Jackasses. Arrogance is what got the club into trouble in the first place, so permit me the temerity to suggest that piling more atop that, and adding a soupcon of outrage, is probably not going to be the correct tack.

But let’s figure some stuff out, shall we?

To catch you up

FIFA alleged that Lee Seung-Woo, Paik Seung-Ho, Chan Kyul Hee, Theo Chendri, Bobby Adekanye, Patrice Sousia, Giancarlo Poveda, Andrei Onana and Maxi Rolón were all signed in violation of the FIFA rules. The U-18s: Seung-Woo, Seung-Ho, Kyul-Hee, Chendri, Adekanye and Sousia were banned from playing for the club. Barça was fined as well as transfer banned, and the RFEF was also fined for allowing the bogus transfers. Any good lawyer would contend that the FIFA provisions essentially had as many holes as a wheel of machine-gunned Swiss cheese. But, the relevant rules in place as regards players under 16 were clear.

– A player’s parents have to move to the country in question of their own volition, and take their young’un with them.
– IF the player is 16-18, the move takes place withIN the EU.
– The player’s home is within 50 kilometers of the national border involved.

So yes, if Barça was going to shop for youth players they should have been doing so in Perpignan, or setting up a company to offer a prospect’s parents a nice, cushy job doing something or other, and “It’s up to you if you want to bring your child with you, but we might have a way for him to keep kicking a football around, should he so desire.” The club could have done this all the right way, but didn’t.

Not surprisingly the most talented among them, Lee Seung-Woo, is the one that kinda started the FIFA examination. At the time, it was rumored that one of the suitors that the player rejected ratted the club out to FIFA. Who knows? But if your cupboard is clean, you don’t mind people wearing white gloves knocking about in it.

So what happened?

Well, FIFA decided to clarify youth football rules, because young players were essentially being swapped and traded around like souvenirs, plucked from their home countries to play football for a foreign club, then tossed aside if the player doesn’t meet the standard.

Now, you can quibble all you like about how FIFA is corrupt, blablabla, but as they decided to clarify and crack down on these rules, there was Barça, with a sextet of bright, shining prospects, many of whom had been offered contracts from clubs, sitting there with a “KICK ME” sign on its back. Why? Because the club clearly violated the guidelines. Because the FIFA investigation took a year, the club had plenty of time to seek an arrangement, maybe ask FIFA what could be done to make things right, etc, etc.

The club did nothing, then when the fine and ban were handed down essentially held forth with “Look what our Masia does for these young men until they are 18, under these silly rules we couldn’t have signed Messi” defense, essentially arguing that because the club gives them an education and develops them, FIFA should look the other way as it considers enforcement for the rules violations. “We broke the rules, but look at the good that we do!”

The regulation that has been supposedly violated has as its aim the protection of the underage players against sports clubs that take in minors without guaranteeing their rights to correct care and education that FCB runs under the La Masía model.

The Masía model incorporates academic education programmes, accommodation, meals and medical assistance, with all the necessary attention to the minors’ needs apart from sports development planning. FCB educates people before sportsmen – something that has not been taken into account by FIFA, which has decided to impose a sanction ignoring the educational function that our training programme has.

All FCB players have always had their federal licenses in order and up to date according to the demands of the corresponding federations.

Some players affected by the FIFA investigation have even been called up by the Federación Catalana de Fútbol in order to participate in inter-autonomous region championships with the Catalonia team.

When FIFA began its investigation, these players’ federal licenses were taken away and these individuals have not played in official matches again. Therefore, under no circumstances have any of them taken part in a non-regulated sports event, breaching that provided for in the regulations.

FIFA giggled, decided this would be a perfect time to set an example, and handed down a two-window transfer ban to the club.

What about the babies?

Well, that is up, ultimately, to the players and their families. They have in effect been unable to play for the club, and assuming CAS does what many expect, that will be another year in which they are unable to play for the club. Would those youth players reopen contacts from clubs that have offered them deals in the past, or stick with Barça? Good question. Brightest among them is Lee Seung-Woo, a Korean phenom hailed as … you guessed it … “the next Messi.”

The club has 90 days from today, when the decision was handed down, to “regularize” the situations of the 6 players. It is unclear what this means, since the players are technically at the club illegally. But you can imagine that not all of the six, assuming the usual alert Premiership clubs and their talent acquisition departments, will be at the club by the end of the sanction period.

But this summer …

The ban was “stayed” this summer, while the club began the appeal process. The cynics out there, and I am among them, suggest that the club knew full well the appeal wasn’t going to be upheld, and spent like drunken sailors in this summer window during the appeal process, with the full knowledge that for the next two windows, no business, aside from recalling loans, could happen.

Because the ban will come down, effective winter window when the club really doesn’t do any business anyhow, this summer is still wide open. It also explains, regarding the Douglas rumors, why he was signed “for 2015.”

This is all why, when discussing this summer’s transfer window, the board critters said that the club has up to 120m to spend. Only the most devoted Pollyanna would believe that the club’s many conversations with FIFA during the appeal process didn’t make it clear that this was coming. The club screwed up, knew that it screwed up, tried to bluff its way out with “Look at all the good we do,” even as it knew that wasn’t going to work.

So the club gets two seasons’ of transfer business done, claps its hands in glee that the money to be used in summer 2015 to buy players can now be banked to go toward the Nou Nou and crowing about even MORE record profits, and off we go.

(Insert boilerplate rant here about why the board needs to go.)

Nice business, right?

In this transfer window, the club effectively set itself up for the next two windows, all while spending (net) less than its Drunken Sailor budget. It is widely expected that the club will add another player in this window, with Cuadrado still the name on many people’s lips. Before now the club had, over two seasons, effectively added only Neymar, Alba and Song, so it wasn’t like transfers were happening hot and heavy, even as they were needed.

Further, if you look at the next level down, with players such as Ie, Diagne, Munir, Halilovic, Samper, Grimaldo and Bagnack to name some, the club can say as it promotes from within, that it is sticking to the bright, shining examples of God, country and La Masia. It’s the payoff of an academy of, at present, absurd talent levels.

The club also has to hope that no serious injuries happen during that two-window ban, though it’s rare that Barça makes that kind of signing. At present, the only area in which the club is a bit thin is in attack. But as Enrique wants a 23-player squad and if we assume that Song will be leaving in this window unless he doesn’t want to play for Barça for the next season, we can expect a squad addition, most likely in attack, hence the Cuadrado notion.

That would leave the club exceptionally well set up with a powerful core group of veterans and youth players, as well as players-in-waiting, to more than capably weather a two-window ban.

Deulofeu will be able to return next summer. The other loaned players, Tello and Suarez are under two-year terms, so won’t be a question anyhow (even if only Suarez will be returning to the club).

And that’s it for now. The CAS appeal process is the next step in the dance, where many expect to see the ban reduced to winter window only. No word yet on when that hearing will be, only that the club intends to appeal.

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69 Responses to “An example is made, aka “Baby can’t go shopping? Now what!””

  1. BarcaSon says:

    do you think the board will sign Cuadrado? instead of that unknown Douglas….

  2. q says:

    You have to feel terrible for the kids. Effectively put into limbo by the club that was supposed to look out for them and done so at a very crucial time in their development. I wouldn’t be surprised if they all left, a year is a terribly long time to not play footy.

    The audacity of the club though. WE are doing these kids a favor, why wouldn’t they want to grow in the best youth academy in the world? Don’t care if it is true or not, at some point if they had backed down and looked like a beaten dog in the corner maybe FIFA would have taken it a little bit more easy on them. But that could also mean that the board stays longer and I’m not for that. The lack of transparency is becoming hard to deal with.

    On the other hand, FIFA is not a saint itself. I thought I remembered hearing that one of the kids that was in question was of African descent but was born somewhere in Barcelona?

    • Levon says:

      Bobby Adekanye has already gone back to Holland to play for PSV this year (he came from Ajax). I think the idea was to come back to Barça afterwards.

      I’ve made my feelings about signing underaged players from other countries very clear in this space. This is one of the few (possibly only) times you will ever hear me say, “Good on FIFA” for upholding the ban. Our club’s behavior has been beyond ridiculous, especially the sorry excuse for a defense strategy.

      I will say that it is very unjust to punish only Barcelona when all major clubs in Europe are doing essentially the same.

    • G6O says:

      The audacity of the club though. WE are doing these kids a favor, why wouldn’t they want to grow in the best youth academy in the world?

      The club is indeed doing them a favor, or at least offering them the best conditions they could get anywhere in the world. Of course, it is not doing it out of the goodness of its heart, but it remains true that:

      1) If you are a promising young player, you (whether you realize both of those things or not) are looking for a place that will help you maximize your potential as a player while in the same time provide you with an education that will not leave you out of any other options in life in the (very likely) case you do not become the next Messi or Iniesta.

      2) Ours is the best academy in the world, and by all accounts, we are emphasizing education more than anyone else (which, BTW, is not entirely for altruistic reasons either as modern football requires a solid dose of intelligence at the highest level).

      This is so far removed from the situation that the rules are intended to prevent, that it’s in fact the precise opposite, and we are indeed only breaking the letter of the law, but not its spirit

  3. Kxevin says:

    This FIFA shot across the bow of all clubs came down the pike just a month after Barça first signed Lee:

    http://es.fifa.com/aboutfifa/organisation/footballgovernance/news/newsid=1494085/

  4. agar2515 says:

    First, LOL @ the title and the image, well done Kevin hahahah.

    Second, we can decry the hypocrisy of FIFA, the inanity of the rules themselves ,but if rules were broken we should accept the punishment with class should our appeals fall through. It boggles the mind that Barca brass would be so ignorant in the first place.

    I’m very curious if we see a sudden flurry of activity before the window closes, signing players that we would have gone for come next summer, especially now that we’ve seen one CAS verdict go against us.

  5. PrinceYuvi says:

    This is a serious issue. But this article is fun. Righteous anger, Sarcastic humour & stuff. Thanks kx.

  6. Jim says:

    I may be way out of line on this one but surely the issue isn’t where a kid comes from but how a club treats them. I can see the sense in the bit about the parents having to come with them but how on earth is it defensible to say kid A can play for Barcelona but Kid B can’t because of where he lives? Make no mistake, if they aren’t picked up at a young age their chances of ever playing for us are negligible, especially if they live in a poor football area. Who could the Korean kid play for ? If the parents are agreeable, come to live in the country and FIFA are happy that there are decent educational programmes on offer through the club, what is the problem ?

    Rules are rules and if we’ve broken them then fine they can punish us but we are just as entitled to question those rules in as high a court as we can muster. Is the Spanish federation going to be punished for allowing it to happen? They are surely the ultimate judge of what is legal in Spanish football. I don’t know enough about those kids who don’t make it at La Masia to comment further but I do know that we shouldn’t just accept what FIFA says on anything. It is as corrupt an organisation as any existing today.

  7. ciaran says:

    Cristian Tello set up Porto’s goal v Lille in the CL qualifier first leg victory. He came off the bench and delivered a wonderful cross for Jackson Martinez’ header, the rebound was put in by Herrera. I hope he has a great season.

    It’s funny that we have Deulofeu and Tello out on loan this season and if they both fulfill their potential then you could potentially have both to come back in next summer with the ban over our head.

    There’s loads more rumours about everyone from Cuadrado and Douglas to Koke and Reus being linked for the remaining 12 days. Our interesting summer may just get even more so before too long.

  8. Peter says:

    We have already talked about this matter before, when the initial ban was announced, so in its overwhelming entirety this post is a rehash of the original argument. For some it would feel like a déjà vu all over again.

    First of all, what Barcelona is penalized for is for following the spirit of the law as opposed to the letter of said regulation. Lest we forget, the regulation was created for the protection of minors from exploitation by clubs and what amounted to human trafficking. This, however, has not stopped various clubs from signing under-age players, only to drop them and send them packing to their homeland when informed about potential punishment. Yes, it’s not outright exploitation and trafficking, but from the point of view of a young footballer it’s the next worst thing. Furthermore, it breaks the original idea behind the law by following the letter of the law.

    Second, there is nobody, and I mean nobody who can argue that Barcelona is not providing not just for the football education, but also for the overall education of the kids in La Masia. It’s not just a football academy – it’s a sport boarding school, and entering amounts to getting a full scholarship for the duration. I believe it’s quite different from the cases which precipitated the need for the regulation. The whole serious BS that everybody’s throwing at Barcelona is that “Barcelona doth broketh the Law”, usually followed by “Dura lex sed lex” which in context is 200-proof bovine excrement. It’s not a polar choice. It’s not a choice between harsh law and anarchy, between rules of jagged iron bent ridiculously easy, and trafficking of minors. Rules can be interpreted and monitored on a case-by-case basis, but of course what FIFA actually created was a rule that serves three purposes – first it creates a system which gets FIFA its fee without too much meddling; second, it provides a solution to a problem without using too many resources, with a future ace in the sleeve in case someone gets too uppity; third, it appeases national federations which provide the votes by establishing a regulation that makes youth players property of their respective federations and clubs.

    Now, onto the actual case. The fact of the matter is that when Barcelona found out about the investigation, it tried to interest FIFA into creating licenses for formative centers to be monitored, examined and certified. Personally I don’t think that if FIFA was so concerned about protecting youngsters, it wouldn’t have jumped at the possibility. Unsurprisingly, FIFA politely declined, while telling Barcelona it’s breaking the law. Then again, Barcelona was involved in constant communication with FIFA over the matter, with FIFA for some reason continuing its demands for more information AFTER deciding on the ban. In another surprising act, FIFA forgot to mention to Barcelona about the ban for about five months, despite probably relying on means of communication superior to giving a letter to a total stranger and hoping to prove the theory of Six degrees of separation.
    This same FIFA displayed remarkable agility when making its decision on the appeal. As a matter of fact, the decision was reached and written in the early afternoon yesterday, apparently about an hour or two after the hearing. In comparison to the deliberations in previous similar or same cases, the celerity of FIFA can be likened to the deliberations of a crowd in the process of extra-judicial punishment.

    If we get to the details of the case, FIFA apparently needed an year in order to decide that ten young footballers are in a breach of the regulations. One of those was a kid, judged to be in the breach because his parents, residing in Barcelona for five years before his birth, went to their homeland for the birth of the baby, thus according to FIFA the parents had known that their small kid would one day be playing for Barcelona, even before it had been a gleam in his daddy’s eye. Surprisingly or not, that kid’s name is missing from the list touted about on the internet. I wonder why.
    If we examine similar cases, Chelsea was also banned for two years, but then settled the dispute with the player in question’s old club in financial terms, and escaped with a fine after appealing. Not to TAS, appealing to FIFA. Interestingly, the denouncement against Barcelona was anonymous – and according to reports it was the Korean football federation which approached Barcelona for Lee and two other kids.

    Last, but not least, regulations in question don’t stipulate a punishment. In practice it means “We’ll do whatever the F we want. Whatcha gonna do ’bout it?” And I expect TAS to rubberstamp it, unless they remove it due to a procedural error.

    P.S. The youth players’ families can bring FIFA to civil court due to breach of the freedom of movement within the EU at least.

    • Rami says:

      I wholeheartedly with you everything you said, But the problem is that you’re treating FIFA as if they’re a reasonable, Intelligent institution, Which they aren’t, (Taa daaa!!) Almost everyone can smile their faint but very present stinky smell, Why in the world would anyone put their own fate in their hands and expect them to be reasonable, I wouldn’t.

      You see a law you don’t like, You got around it, You find a loop hole somewhere!, You don’t go and out right break it, Crossing your fingers and hope for the best, That’s just sloppy, To say the least.

      I just hope that those youngsters were worth this trouble, We keep hearing about the exceptional talent of Seung Woo Lee, Maybe in the coming years we look back at this whole mess the same way we look back at messi’s napkin contract.

      • Rami says:

        So many grammar errors *facepalm*, Sorry…

      • Peter says:

        How dare you say I treat FIFA as if they’re reasonable!!! :D
        They are intelligent and cunning, but the problem is that until the rules are changed or FIFA itself is changed, it IS the governing body and everything can pass through it. I’m still hoping that the regulations can be changed, but it’s just faint hope, and it must pass through civil court, not FIFA appellation or CAS, which are quasi-courts.

        I agree entirely about you idea of subverting a law, but not all do, and sometimes the possibility of completing the letter of the law(get their family to Barcelona!) is not possible. In any case, my personal hope is that TAS will intervene, because de facto Barcelona has already served half of its sentence.

        The real issue for me is the fact that the regulation for the protection of minors restricts freedom of movement and freedom of association within the EU on one hand, and is against the stipulations of the International Bill of Rights on the other hand.

    • Kxevin says:

      But bottom line is that the club has been in contravention of Article 19 and knew it, since a month after it signed Lee, a player who because of his desirability and talent, was bound to leave some ruffled feathers on the bottoms of the failed suitors. So it should have been all the more reason to make sure your stuff was correct.

      The rule is the rule. The Chelsea case was very different, and also involved one player, not 10. It’s the “but officer, everyone else was speeding!” defense when you get pulled for excess velocity in your vehicle.

      They might have been, but you were still speeding.

      For me, this is at the feet of the club. They can’t claim ignorance, they can’t claim that they didn’t know the crackdown was coming, or that they might be in the crosshairs. And they did nothing to try to make this right.

      Yes, the club is being made an example of. But you know what? If you know the police are setting up speed traps and you still speed and get caught, you take your medicine. The issue isn’t FIFA. That organization has well-known issues, but the rule is very clear. And we broke it. Simple as that.

      To Rami’s point, FIFA isn’t reasonable or intelligent, but the rule is still clear. The club registered the players in contravention of the rule, and RFEF was fined for approving the illegal transfers. There isn’t gray area, nor is there spirit of the rule in this case. There is just the rule.

      As you say, Rami, it was sloppy. But worse, it was negligent.

      • Jim says:

        It’ll be interesting, Kxevin, to see what happens if push ever comes to shove on this one. As Peter says the EU is quite clear on the free movement of its people from one country to another ( at least within its borders ) and it tends not to take well to any organisation which goes against this. We in the UK have fallen foul of them on a number of occasions and they don’t play gentle! As far as I can see, they would be the higher authority for any club playing in Europe and I’d love the sight of them taking on FIFA. This could well escalate and if it did I’d expect FIFA to try to threaten us with greater punishments if we decide to pursue it. What I think it would need, although I’m certainly no legal expert, would be one of the youngsters, or their family, – who was resident in an EU country (which let’s some of them out) to pursue it through the civil courts as Peter says, pretty much like the Bosman situation.

        However, bottom line for us is that this will not affect our current team in the slightest and we shouldn’t be rushing out to buy anyone. We have a much enlarged – and better imo- first team squad. The new players would all be given a second season to settle even if they weren’t hacking it this season, so we wouldn’t be planning on new additions anyway. I’m more worried about the youngsters caught up in this but could we not just send them back to their local team ( essentially on loan) ? Who is the Korean kid going to sign for under the current rules anyway ?

        • posthipsterpope says:

          My knowledge of EU law is rudimentary at best, but I think that freedom of movement for employment does not apply to minors. And since this whole case involves bringing children who are by law unable to sign employment contracts, who is the plaintiff in a civil suit?

  9. I really like the last couple of posts you’ve made Kxevin. The Perpignan comment had me in tears. I’m not trying to be sycophantic here either, but you’ve got a great sense of humor in you’re writing, which is ideal for sports.

    Second, thanks Levon, Peter, Ciaran, and Jim for your great posts! I really enjoy reading them all and I have fun with the all the different voices and styles (& everyone else as well, but I’m sure many of us are in accord that these are the MVPs).

    I have nothing of weight to add concerning the FIFA ban as I am 1. not a reporter and 2. not a lawyer, but as, at least what I would consider to be, a rational human being, I must say that I find the issue obnoxious. With all do respect to the opposition, punishing kids for attending La Masia is like punishing Eton for accepting foreigners. La Masia is the Harvard of youth soccer, academically and athletically. The relationship is certainly, 100% symbiotic for the player and the institution.

    THAT being said. Rationality has never been a particularly strong characteristic of any governing body (the general behavior of police officers across the entire planet is a great example). In that respect, the powers that be in the ivory, or rather red and yellow stripped tower in Les Corts had this coming. Conspiracy? Goldman-Sachs-esque manipulation?

    The bottom-line here really comes down to a Moore-ish “who watches the watchman?” In this case, FIFA, an institution, which like all contemporary institutions, invokes a large dose of cynicism for many people (at least those who use that mass of nerves in their skulls). Thus, it is hard for me, albeit a biased observer, to justify the sanctions outside of some gesture of a law that will somehow stop the rampant child trafficking of footballers around the globe? Let’s consider for a second the actual slavery in Qatar.

    I am not trying to present a cohesive or legal argument against the impending regulations, but in my opinion they are quite hilarious. FIFA is like the IMF or the World Bank. Which is to say, a ridiculous and corrupt bureaucratic institution making somebody money somewhere, probably a lawyer.

  10. Rami says:

    Never been a fan of those court dramas (Yes including the TV shows), But what i’m interested in is the nitty gritty stuff that follows this mess of ours, Multiple names have been linked to us as contingency plan in case TAS doesn’t reduce or remove the ban, The only player rumor that has a tangible thread of possible credibility is of marco reus, Who is the one i want to talk about.

    EE have always been a source of reducible for me, Because of their ‘Compulsive Buying Behaviors’ when purchasing players, They find a shiny new toy, And they just have to buy it, They don’t necessarily need it, Nor have a place or a plan for it
    “But it’s just too good to pass, Am i right, Right!”
    It’s a road that i don’t want our club to follow, And it’s easier to drift into it than what you might think.

    If a player is bought, Then he must fit into the template and the plans of the head coach, Filling gaps and adding to the squad, Preferably in proportion to amount of money paid for him.
    I have no idea what goes on in lucho’s brain, What is his vision and needs for the team, So i can’t really comment on weather we should get reus.

    What i do know, is that marco is a versatile player and quite a phenomenal one if you didn’t know that already, If he comes to barca, The most likely spot for him is that of iniesta’s (CAM), By the time next season comes, Casper will be 31, So he won’t be impossible to bench when also taking the account of the high physical demands of luis enrique, But at the same time i think casper has 2 full years of good juice in him.

    So i’m very interested to know everybody’s opinion about the idea of bringing reus.

    • agar2515 says:

      I’m fully biased in this, because I have loved Reus as a player for years, he’s not merely the “shiny new toy” impulse buy that, say, a James was for Madrid.
      I am sure there is going to be a lot written about that possibility but it comes down to two things for me.
      First, if possible, after analyzing which players attributes and personalities would work/ best compliment your squad’s preferred play-style, you should want the best possible players starting at every position for your club.

      This does NOT mean blindly assembling Galacticos, but rather picking the BEST possible players for each position on the pitch (in an ideal world). Honestly just look at our current squad’s probable “best” first XI, which isn’t too far off from what I’m getting at:

      Ter-Stegen: one of the world’s best young GK’s, exceptional with his feet
      Alves: Former top RB in the world ( it was he and Lahm) , still capable
      Pique: one of the world’s best CB’s
      Mathieu: perhaps in the twilight of his career BUT is pacey, tall, strong,left-footed
      Alba: one of the world’s best LB’s
      Busquets: Best DM in the World
      Iniesta: Best attack-mid in the world
      Rakitic: One of the best all around mids in the world, an engine in the mid
      Neymar: one of the top young talents in the world
      Messi: Possible GOAT
      Suarez: World’s best ’9′

      I lead with this because already on social media some people are decrying the possibility of signing Reus. It baffles me completely. He can do every single thing asked of him on a football pitch, he’s shown it ever since his time at the “other Borussia”.

      Oh,my second point was that PLEASE don’t come with ” We’re turning into Madrid!” , ‘What about La Masia!” to try and dissuade me. Our best squad’s have always had a mixture of veteran stars and homegrown products. Also, there is nothing wrong with bringing youth along slowly, or do we want more Bojan’s in our future? Let the kid’s grow at their own, nurtured pace. Not a single current Masia talent or loanee is anywhere near Reus at the moment.Truth is they’re NOT all going to be good enough to crack the first XI, sad but true.

      Will we land him? I have no idea? Is there any reality in which anyone should be AGAINST signing one of the best players in the world if Lucho and co. have deemed essential to our club’s future needs? Ummm nope.

      • I agree Reus would be great and with many of your points, but this Bojan rhetoric (which is not yours specifically, but rampant across the same social media network) is becoming another straw man. Bojan is the exception to the rule. Most Masia product does quite well around Europe, and for every Bojan there is a Nolito or a Thiago to the third power.

        I love Reus and I would love to see him in Blaugrana. But, again, it isn’t an easy call strategically with the homegrown talent. I’m just happy that I don’t have to be responsible for those decisions. Zubi must hate to watch a match at this point.

        • agar2515 says:

          I should have been clearer instead of picking on poor Bojan. I meant that, if we have the luxury of being able to acquire top-tier talent that is ready NOW while still bringing aling the youth ( especially since they’re already getting regular training and minutes with the B-team) then we shouldn’t bat an eye.

          For that reason, I’m very glad we have made the wise decisions to loan out Deu,Denis, and Tello instead of gradually building expectations so high that they most likely would underwhelm in the few minutes they would end up getting.

          Along those lines, I mentioned Bojan because, for example, I’m sure you read all the reactions to Munir after the Gamperr? People needed to take a breath and not hand the world over to him just yet . There is no reason to hype and rush along youth products anymore.

          • BA says:

            my question is simply: why do we need to spend money on Reus? he’s undoubtedly an outstanding player, but his position is currently being occupied by not 1 but 2 (Andres and Neymar) of the world’s best players, with more in the pipeline. surely even the most Football-Manager-Happy fan would agree we hardly have a need on our left attacking flank? and just as surely for me that money would be better spent on his compatriot at BvB Mats Hummels.

    • Peter says:

      Reus is a great player, but I’m not sure he’d like the idea of continuing to play in Dortmund for the next season, and then return to a team with Neymar, Messi, Suarez, Deulofeu(after one year in Sevilla) and Munir(after one more year either with the first team or the Babies), with Suarez and Neymar having an year in the team on him.

      Second, Reus may not like the idea of playing in Spain and playing what amounts to third fiddle to Suarez and Neymar. When all’s said and done, these players are young men, but many of them have established lives, and as the saying goes “Better first in a Gallic village than second in Rome”(with all due respect to BVB), especially when you consider the fact that Borussia draw the largest (and in many cases the most passionate) crowds in Europe. That stuff also counts and in quite a few cases compensates for the lower salary.

      Still, if he can be signed without serious repercussions, then okay. A suitable contract can be signed with BVB, stipulating that Reus plays for one more year in BVB, with Borussia paying say two thirds of his new salary, and retaining the right to buy him back for the original amount plus some interest in case of objectives achieved and in case player and club agree (and one more condition, a fee of 50% of the additional value in case BVB re-buy him from Barcelona only to sell him to the highest bidder).

      Personally, though, I’m not sure Zubi and the board will go for it, because no matter what they do they’ll still be damned. Damned if they sign Reus “FOR TWO MUCH MONEY!!!” and then send him back to Borussia, damned if they sell him back to Borussia “FOR TWO LITTLE MONEY!!!” and double-damned if they sign him and use him and he blocks the way/ruins the career of Deulofeu or Munir, because “You stewpid woman, you bought a player for millions when you could use the pearl of La Masia, and you destroyed him!!!”

      • agar2515 says:

        I don’t think Reus would be third fiddle. He’s better than Neymar as of now, and he’s shown himself fully capable of functioning while linking up with all-star teammates. He just oozes the attitude that he is ” Playing for the team” and not himself. I don’t think the negative noise would be as loud as you think. He seems to be universally adored by every fan base. Everyone wants Marco.

        • Kxevin says:

          Reus is different than Neymar. Better? I would disagree, even as I acknowledge the talent that Reus has.

          But it is a deal that is never going to happen, because there is no reason for Reus to come to a team with Neymar, Messi and Suarez, along with Munir in the wings, Adama on the rise as well as Suarez, Deulofeu on loan.

          That is a serious glut of attacking talent of a quality that makes you wonder if the money wouldn’t be better spent elsewhere. The one thing Barça has plenty of is AMs and wingers.

  11. andrecito says:

    i am sorry to ask this, but could someone clarify..because of the ruling, does it mean that all the kids that were involved in the case that brought the sanctions are now NOT members of la masia?…and if so, does anyone have any idea what happened to them? thanks..

    • Jim says:

      I’m talking completely off the top of my head here, Andrecito but I think I read somewhere (here?) we have been given a short amount of time to get our house in order ie. remove in some way those youngsters from the club to bring us in line with their rules. I’m guessing they can’t sign for any foreign club so it’d mean going back to their own country at least temporarily which is why I was asking if a “loan back” to a local club is out of the question. Although some are obviously great talents and would be in demand from other clubs I’m still not clear what their options would be should they decide not to return to us.

    • Peter says:

      When the announcements about the ban was made in April, Bartomeu stated that the kids are staying at La Masia. They remain part of their respective teams, but cannot be signed and play in competitions, but they remain part of La Masia and continue their studies. If they desire, they can go to another club at which they won’t be… protected… so that they can continue to play, like one of the Dutch kids is doing, with the intention of returning to Barcelona about half an hour after blowing the sixteen candles of his cake. However, they are students at La Masia.

  12. Peter says:

    Barcelona itself cannot take FIFA to ordinary court. It is forbidden under the clauses of FIFA. However, a private citizen like the parent of a youth player can take FIFA to court, either the European or the International court of Justice, because the regulation prohibits rights guaranteed under the International Bill of Rights. For EU citizens like the parents of Bobby Adekanye and French players Kais Ruiz and Theo Chendri it restricts their right of movement, as well as right of association and right of education. It seems pompous the way I’m throwing big words around, but that is the truth. FIFA is treating youth players as the property of their respective national football leagues. They can take FIFA to the European Court of Justice over the fact that their kids cannot be accepted to study in La Masia, which is a sport school with de facto complete scholarships, not due to immigration laws or statutes, but due to the regulations of an international self-appointed organization that claims it protects them by prohibiting their movement and making them jump through hoops.

    Kxevin, you talk about subverting the law by getting the parent a nice cushy job as deputy junior assistant of the secretary of the chief of scouts, but have you thought about the flip side? What happens if the club decides to drop the player, due to whatever reasons? Would they maintain the job of the main bread earner, or would they inform him that due to budget cuts his position is no longer available? Under current regulations the club won´t be held responsible for dropping the player, because he can go back to his family, which after all moved for non-football related reasons, right? They knew the risks, right? FIFA can raise its hands and claim innocence, the club followed the guidelines, the kids are all right and protected, and here´s a one-way ticket tourist class to wherever you came from. What´s even more important, every such case would make following attempts more unlikely, both due to precedent and due to fear from the families of the kids that Nike Aspire to become great.

    The real solution to such a problem would be to recognize academies like Barcelona´s La Masia as centers of education, which can and will be monitored, which centers will be under obligation to provide scholarships for the kids they accept, as well as provide them with education equal or better from the one available in their home countries. Basically, they will become private sport schools associated with a club. Would it be fair to the rest of the clubs? No, not really, but this isn´t a question of fairness. Clubs which invest in their academies as full-time educational centers instead of after-school activities will reap the benefits because they will be able to attract foreign young players. Instead of complaining about unfair treatment and lobbying, other clubs may start creating their own schools and/or investing in youth development. FIFA can protect the kids by allowing regulated access to those centers by requiring the clubs to accept students not just on part-time basis, but full-time until graduation or in case of an expulsion for causes not related to the sport in which they “major”, examining the quality and standard, while also requiring the parents to give their consent for the move. You realize that for all intents and purposes I am parroting the ideas of Sandro Rosell and the Board, but just because it was that board and a violent board fanboy like me says it doesn´t make it untrue.

    This is basically the idea of the sport schools behind the Iron Curtain – schools which provide boarding and complete education, but with the added sport major. My mom is a graduate of one(rhythmic gymnastics), and at one time these were elite public schools, comparable only to the foreign language schools, which were open only to the sons of Party functionaries(I am a graduate of one, albeit after the fall of Socialism).

    Can such a system be abused? Of course, but that holds true for every system – even the current one, which does not examine cases which aren’t reported by offended discarded suitors. The real problem is that FIFA will have to do something and spend time and resources which in its eyes are better spent looking for corporate sponsors, bickering, bribing and being bribed and getting in the news for scandals and twisting the hands of the World Cup hosts for make benefits Corporate Sponsors(Especially Budweiser, who for some unfathomable reason insist on calling their product “beer”.)

    • posthipsterpope says:

      (I wrote most of the below further up as well but seems more appropriate here.)

      “For EU citizens like the parents of Bobby Adekanye and French players Kais Ruiz and Theo Chendri it restricts their right of movement, as well as right of association and right of education.”

      Not really. The right of movement/residence is subject to conditions, one of those being an exception made for employment. But since none of the youth players can actually sign an employment contract, none can bring suit claiming restraint of movement. And neither can their parents, since none of them are having their employment restrained.

      Nor, despite Barca claims, is the academy a educational institution providing vocational training, most simply because I imagine being a footballer is not a vocation as prescribed by European Law. So no avenue for suit there.

      Lastly, I’m not sure how their freedom of association is being restricted. The freedom is subject to reasonable restrictions, and regardless, as with the right to employment, the right to join a trade union won’t apply to minors.

      • Peter says:

        I personally think it makes a very good case, since the regulation forces the parents to move to another country – and look for employment there – a restriction not based on the relevant laws of either country, so it doesn’t really fall under the “reasonable restriction” policy.

        Freedom of association is not limited to trade unions, and “subject to reasonable restrictions” according to the laws of the country in question. None of those apply to the arbitrary restriction imposed by FIFA, supposedly for the protection of said minors, by taking the decision out of the hands of their parents.

        As for being a footballer is a vocation or not, I believe the Bosman and Kolpak rulings made it clear that professional athletes are workers and have the same rights.

        Lastly, La Masia can fall under the guidelines of private educational institutions. As long as it meets following criteria established by Spanish and European law, it can receive a licence for education either singularly in combination with another educational institution.

  13. I like to call it corn soda myself.

  14. andrecito says:

    Thanks for the info.. peter, your idea for such kinds of schools sounds great and completely logical…i was thinking about these kids that are all caught up in this last night..what unbelievable burden/ guilt that they may be feeling from this.. kind of like the child who’s parents get divorced and they think its their fault.. except in this case, not only do their parents get divorced, but also go to jail for 2 years, and the child has to stay in detention until their parents get out..

  15. agar2515 says:

    For what it’s worth, on Douglas, by one of my favorites:
    http://lucasammr.com/2014/08/21/douglas-the-poor-mans-alves/

    • Kxevin says:

      Every, any and all transfers are a risk. Suarez could tank, if the club drops 40m on Reus, he could tank. You just never, ever know. If this Douglas thing happens, we will have to see him on the pitch to determine whether he is “Barça quality” or not. For me, the rest is just bench racing.

      This player isn’t good enough, that player isn’t good enough. If the system doesn’t work, no player will be good enough. If the system does work, a broad range of quality players can work within that system.

      IS Douglas a quality player? Dunno. I haven’t seen even a second of him, so I can’t say. Bonded with someone on Twitter who downloaded some of his matches and concluded that he wasn’t bad at all. But people who say “he’s terrible” for whatever reason, would quibble with that evaluation. I posted the evaluation of a professional who works within the game in this space, and he rates Douglas.

      So who’s right and who’s wrong? Valid ask. We’ll have to see when boots hit the turf. I just don’t think you can dismiss a player before he has ever played in the colors. Everyone is fond of showing the video clip where Ronaldinho turns him inside out. If all the defenders that Ronaldinho turned inside out were discarded, there wouldn’t be that many defenders available in the world.

      Let’s just wait to see what happens.

      • agar2515 says:

        This is where the “agree to disagree” really comes in handy.

        Everyone has opinions but I just don’t see how anyone can say Neymar is unequivocally better, especially after only ONE season in Europe. What is he better at exactly? Tricks? Dribbling? Being the focal point of a National Team? Reus can press, he can finish, he can take FK’s, pass, and on and on. He is universally adored and wanted for a reason.

        Again, sure you may prefer Neymar but I don’t think any case of him> Reus is as easy to argue as Reus>Neymar RIGHT NOW in the European game. Reus has proven his quality over a longer period of time at the highest level surely that counts for something?

        All of this^ though is really meaningless because people have their own preferences in players and the odds of his coming are (sadly) minimal.

        Second, people may disagree with Lucas on things (Pique being the main one) but the man sure knows his Brazilian football, he’s over there on the ground. Reading that piece, I take his word over nearly anyone else’s, especially as he called the downfall of Scolari’s Selecao waaay in advance. Also, that thing you posted is, no joke, one of if not THE only positive eval I’ve read of Douglas. Not a peep about him that I can find from any outlet about any other club ever being interested. He’s 24 already, surely there would have been some noise if he was anywhere close to decent?

        Yes, it all comes down to ” we have to wait and see” but sometimes it’s ok to call a spade a spade (to quote @Youngcules referring to Douglas), though I do see your point, that hey maybe he’ll be alright, let’s not crucify him just yet.

        At any rate, he’s not coming right away and when he does it looks like it is going to be as a backup for Montoya next year, which is just dandy.

        • Kxevin says:

          But all of the attributes that you mention as regards Reus, could also describe Neymar. And that’s in addition to leading one of the best NTs in the world.

          Reus is the player on everyone’s lips. I understand. Reus banged in 16 goals for Dortmund last season. So did Neymar for Barça, in fewer appearances. Reus had one more assist than Neymar. So how would we quantify “better?”

          I don’t “like” Neymar any more or less than any other player. I just fail to see, even as Reus’ talent is without question, what makes him better than Neymar.

          As for Douglas, as I say. We will have to wait for events. But the list of players who weren’t good enough for this club’s supporters is an illustrious one. I don’t trust anyone when it comes to advance player evaluations. Culers say Fabregas is crap and are glad to see the back of him. Chelsea pays north of 33m for him, uses him differently and he’s a strong, hard-working, decisive player.

          Keita was a cipher, Alves wasn’t a good defender, Henry a has-been looking for one last hurrah. Abidal? Ligue 1? Whatever.

          Point is we just don’t know.

      • PrinceYuvi says:

        Aye.
        Don’t shoot the guy before you see him.

        I watched whatever footage available there on youtube.
        If nothing else, Douglas takes free kicks for his team and scored a fair few of them.

        If a guy can swerve a dead ball mid-air, I’m pretty sure he can pass.

        P.S. 6M is pocket change. Rather spent, than another addition to ‘profit’

        • agar2515 says:

          Again, I trust Lucas who is ACTUALLY in Brazil with actual supporters of that club over youtube and second hand accounts. The man knows his stuff.

          • PrinceYuvi says:

            Oh sure. Why not ?
            You can never trust youtube clips.
            Because they show actual footage of players.
            ITK accounts are the best.

          • Hilal says:

            So you would trust somebody just because they are in Brazil but you don’t trust the club’s scouts who live and breath football and scout players for a living? They are also in Brazil btw and probably watch him live regularly. I am not saying let’s give this guy carte blanche but let’s at least give him a chance in the club’s colours shall we. Whatever people on social media say, the club scouts obviously see something in Douglas so I am willing to give him a chance. It would make no sense for the club to sign a player who is as average as everyone is claiming so there is definitely something there that people are not seeing. Not sure what it is since I have never seen him but there must be something. Every player we have signed this summer adds quality to the team one way or another and I would like to believe that Douglas will too. Time will tell..

          • agar2515 says:

            Ummm someone clearly doesn’t follow this guy I’m talking about. He isn’t some loud, brash “itk” fan. Yes, I trust people who GO TO THE GAMES week in and out vs. youtube highlights

  16. agar2515 says:

    *EDIT* ^^^^ I forget just how exhausting it gets when one starts a ” player x v. player y” discussion. I don’t want to get into a back and forth with stats and percentages and yadda yadda yadda, and trying to convince or be convinced that one> the other. SO I’ll leave us each completely to our own preferences and retract all the Reus v. Ney questions in my post. The part about Douglas I still stand by though.

  17. Kxevin says:

    And then there is Alves, who had a lot to say today, including that he didn’t feel valued by the club, and never wants to leave Barça. He also said that last season wasn’t Martino’s fault, but the players for coming up short and failing to execute.

    He even blasphemed by saying the team didn’t deserve to win the Liga last season.

    I love his pressers. Always honest.

  18. PrinceYuvi says:

    Jest aside, Douglas looks more of Eusebio’s signing than Lucho’s.

    Patric RB,
    Grimaldo LB,
    Godswill FB,
    Sergio Juste Natural position Right wing, but plays RB/CB.

    Scarce supplies with transfer ban looming. He’ll fit right in there. Ha.
    Whatever happened to those Piszczek rumours, I learned to spell his name, Zubi.

  19. Going for Reus now is nonsense. I was one who thought we should have signed him instead of neymar. But that’s past. We don’t need neymar and reus together. These are world class players and they will demand a starting place every time. In an utopian world i would love to see tjem together. But in real world both of them playing in same position will create more issues in dressibg room. This has happened a number of times in our team and every other team. But for some reason the fans still remains optimistic.

  20. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one! says:

    so.. if the ban is upheld, will it apply for sales as well. for ex, can alves be sold next summer?

    • Kxevin says:

      Players can be sold, but new ones can’t be registered with the club. Note that because La Masia players are already registered with the club, promotions are fine, as are loan recalls.

  21. Temple says:

    Neymar injury blow again?
    Just season start. Can’t just get a grip.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Ankle sprain. Should be back in two weeks.

      • PrinceYuvi says:

        Not weeks. A few days of rest.

        • Kxevin says:

          Still saying he is “doubtful” for Sunday, but why rush him, I say? Means a probable front line of Munir/Messi/Rafinha, as the meteoric rise of Munir looks set to continue.

          So all of the “wait until he gets real competition” people will have their wish sooner than anticipated. Man, he JUST got promoted to Barça B.

          • PrinceYuvi says:

            True story.
            An In Form Striker is an exciting thing.
            Should be allowed to explode.

            Even someone like Giroud ran toe to toe with Europe’s finest; Scored one too many in the early part of last season whilst he was on a roll.
            But, then he remembered his name.

            It could be a chance to divorce forwards-dependencia; about time our midfield & defence flaunt their names on score sheet.

            Looking forward to Rakitic Foreheaders :D

  22. FCBarcelona says:

    Did they (“we”) make a bid for Angel Di Maria? Reportedly (from what I understand) 60m euro’s. What a move! Can someone confirm this? Thanks in advance!

    Btw, great summer in terms of transfers and youth players in friendlies. Excited for sunday, hope we can make a run until the end of May / begin of June!

    Visca Barca!

    • ciaran says:

      I read about it as it was reported by a few Spanish papers. It seems very unlikely that they would sell him to us. I can’t argue with his quality as he is probably their most dangerous player but I can’t say that I like him as a player because of his constant diving. Still, give him the ball and he creates danger every time.
      I can’t see it happening anyway as he wouldn’t be guaranteed game time which has to be what he is looking for. As much as I dislike him you have to admire his abilities and I hope he leaves Madrid.

      • FCBarcelona says:

        Thank you ciaran for your quick answer. I know that the possibility of that move would be close to 0, so I am not waiting for the deal to be sealed. The news irself (if true) is just remarkable at the very least. I admire his quality as you do, and it would be a blow for Madrid should he leave – based on his performances last season.

      • acquit says:

        You don’t like Neymar either.Obviously. Btw I read a piece on who’s favorite for league this season by Dermat Corrigan and he mentions that Barca are still weak at the back(Many know that). And here we are bidding for Reus/Di Maria(Proven super stars). Why do we that? So that our defense remains our scapegoat for years to come?. I am not understanding as why we are bidding for Reus either?. Can someone explain me?. Kxevin had written a piece on we don’t need a truly top class defender, but we don’t need Reus/DiMaria either. And again, it all comes to board. Looks like board wants treble this season to save their arse!

        • Jim says:

          Then I’m afraid whoever wrote that is as hysterical as some of our own fans seem to be. We weren’t particularly weak at the back last year and would have won at least two trophies had the attack delivered. However, there were particular issues such as height, pace and positioning which needed to be addressed. I would argue that first signs are encouraging but no more than that. I think the attack will be more effective and I think our pressing will be better. We also can’t possibly suffer the slings and arrows which fate threw at us last year. Not sure how that translates into no better a season than last. For anyone to write us off before the season begins shows little understanding of our team, imo.

  23. I think Reus wouldn’t be brought in to compete with Neymar, but rather Iniesta. I like the player a lot, but it does have the feeling of candy after desert.

      • PrinceYuvi says:

        If he comes for 30M, Wow.
        If he doesn’t, No worries, we’re covered.

        If it happens, It’d be fun to have a Dortmund profile in our midst.

        Such a fluid team,
        One moment they’re defending,
        you blink
        & Hey, look at them all converging on the goal.
        Reus ably marshals these smooth transitions, week in and week out.

        • Jim says:

          Yeah, but who drops out for him and how often ? We already have genuine world class players in four or five positions and the rest will not put up with being regular bench warmers. I reckon that’s already LE’s toughest task this year: to keep everyone happy and positive.

          • ciaran says:

            Reus is the perfect replacement for Iniesta but the timing is wrong. If Iniesta was a couple of years older then it would be perfect or if Reus was a couple of years younger so he could wait but if, and it’s a big if, he isn’t going to remain in Dortmund then next summer is probably when he makes his move and we won’t be an option.

          • PrinceYuvi says:

            Neymar as 11, Suarez as 9, Reus as 7, Messi as 10 ?
            3-3-1-3 ?
            Not overtly fond of ‘Not where you want them’ fullbacks of ours.
            Mathieu-Pique-Bartra.

            This is pure speculation & a pipe dream of course.
            I’ve no idea whether this formation is suicidal or not, that’s Ciaran/Peter’s forte.

            Reus presses, he’s 180cm, quite fun to watch
            & his club seems reluctant to let him buy One way ticket to Munich.

          • agar2515 says:

            Just so long as Marco doesn’t go to Bayern… I also clearly rate Reus higher than most do here for whatever reason ( have most people here just seen less of him?) With respect Kevin he’s been “on peoples lips” for years now…

  24. Kxevin says:

    A new post up, on Douglas and stuff, to cap off my last day of vacation, when I return to my normal, non-productive self.

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